Monday, June 7, 2010

Recycling the Topic of Recycling

HARBESON: Some trash talk about forced recycling

By DEBBIE HARBESON Local Columnist

> SOUTHERN INDIANA — I believe I’ve proven beyond a shadow cast by a tall stack of orange plastic bins that I’m really into recycling. I say this with confidence because I’ve written about Clark County’s recycling fiascoes at least six times.

Why, I’ve recycled the topic of recycling so many times, trying to get people to see the effects of government force, that I have a permanent mark 2 inches above my eyebrows. You know, the kind you get from banging your head against brick walls.

I have learned to pad my forehead now though. It’s a great way to recycle an old phone book, even if it is kind of heavy and means the Clark County Solid Waste District can’t use it to collect more revenue.

But that’s not important anyway since this government entity can collect revenue whether we actually use the “service” or not.

Anyway, today I considered offering more proof of my commitment to recycling by simply recycling excerpts from those past letters and columns. But then the district made local news again so I decided to create a brand-new column. Don’t worry, it’s recyclable.

Over the years, I’ve watched the county’s recycled officials discuss various recycling decisions, which led to revised decisions and then revisions to the revised decisions. All in an effort to tweak a bad idea so it works “right.”

Lately, the district’s board has been recycling the idea of completely taking over recycling operations. Currently, they have granted monopoly privileges to Inland Services Corp.

Some board members don’t like “sharing the revenue” with Inland and want to control all the funds. Apparently, they don’t like handing over money to the people actually doing the work.

These officials also believe the government can be much more efficient, which they think would mean more money to spend. They need more money because the current building is in need of repair.

Some think that fixing or replacing that building may not be the best decision. So, a proposal was made to spend three times the cost and move to a much larger space in the Clark Maritime Centre. If there’s one thing people in government know how to do, it’s proposing grand ideas for growth.

However, the board wasted time and energy discussing this potential move because members didn’t do their homework first. They discovered that their government operation would not be an authorized use of the property.

The new director said they were “unaware of the number of restrictions” at the port authority. But all they had to do was go to their website. The entire Declaration of Restrictions and loads of other information is easily accessible online.

I have to admit I found it to be pretty funny watching a government entity being prevented from growth because of government-imposed zoning rules.

Whether or not they move — if they do take full control over the forcibly funded program — what can we expect? Well, they have already said they will have to buy equipment and hire more employees.

Does it seem smart to you to add people to a government payroll these days? As they create ways to grow, how long do you think the mandatory fee for this “service” will remain at the current level?

It’s such a shame that we may never know what could have been done without government stepping in and forcing a singular solution.

My continued hope is that all of this helps more people realize we need to trash the proverbial box we trap ourselves in when we believe government is the answer. And I’ll be so glad because I can finally take this phone book off my head.

— Sellersburg resident Debbie Harbeson has no idea if she’ll ever write about recycling again. But she’s keeping a phone book around just in case.


  1. In a sane world -- obviously not this one -- we'd know when it made sense to recycle a given material, based on whether you could make money by doing so. In this world, though, some favored corporation can usually make money off recycling by getting a government to put a gun to people's heads and shaking that money out of them.

    Re: the comment above, by the way: I'm glad "sdas" said that. Because it probably needed saying, and there's no way I could've said it -- my keyboard won't make those funny letters, no matter how I try! :-)

  2. Jim, I was about to delete sdas' comment but since you added such profound thoughts about it, I'm keeping it up. :)